Re: What does "scalable" mean?

Subject: Re: What does "scalable" mean?
From: Dan Brinegar <vr2link -at- VR2LINK -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 11:44:51 -0700

In trying to come up with a general explaination, my car examples might
have been contradicting my server examples... by Joaquim's definition of
scalable, my car examples might have been correct, while my server example
might not... I might just confuse us all even worse by trying to
differentiate between hardware scalability and software scalability...
doggone buzzwords anyway ;-)

For those who are wondering, this is an example of how usage of a word or
term affects technical communication 8-)

Words and terms such as "extensible," "scalable," "robust," "Extranet,"
"functionality," or "fault tolerant" are adopted or coined within one
working group or community to mean something specific; and those words or
terms may be picked up and propagated thruought a wider community either
with misunderstandings or reinterpretations and grow to mean different
things to different people... then become marketing buzzwords -- and they
can mean one thing on one platform, and another on a competing platform
(NT, UN*X, Mac, etc.).

*** Explicit example relating to working as a technical communicator ****

For instance; I *hated* the use of the word *robust* in system
documentation... in plain english, robust means "big and strong;" while
much of the documentation and press at the time used the term to mean
"really cool" or as a euphemism for "bloatware," while the "canonical" take
on "robust" was that it meant "more fault-tolerant than 'fault-tolerant';
able to withstand errors and notify the operator of trouble before
panicking and doing a core-dump." In my transition from mainframe operator
to techwriter, I always tried to determine if "robust" was being used as a
meaningless buzzword or as something specific...

First thing I did to find out if the word was being used accurately was to
check the company styleguide or glossary -- if the definition was clear and
specific there, I'd interrogate the person who used "robust" as to what
*made* their system "robust." If their explaination approximated the
corporate definition, I'd leave it in -- if the styleguide/glossary
definition made no sense, I'd strike it out mercilessly and recast each
sentence where it was used...

Anyway, there are "canonical glossaries" available on the Web for these
things, as well as vendor dictionaries, glossaries, and manuals of style
--such as the _Microsoft Manual of Style_ or the _Microsoft Press Computer
Dictionary_ Rowena Hart mentioned...

[personal anecdotes on differing-uses of buzzwords deleted at the last
moment, aren't you glad?]

Beware of buzzwords... "buzzword" is a buzzword.

>>At 9:37 AM -0400 4/27/98, Brian Lightfoot wrote:
>>>What does it mean when someone says that a server[or database] is scalable
>>>or not scalable?

>At 08:55 98/04/27 -0700, Dan Brinegar wrote:

>>If the term is being applied in a technical sense, rather than a marketing
>>sense, "scalable" means ....

At 6:31 PM +0100 4/27/98, Joaquim Baptista wrote:
>I do not agree.

Performance S u p p o r t Svcs.
Phoenix, Arizona

"This is not a Fat Guy confined to a wheelchair...
it's a new Telecommuter saving tons on auto insurance."

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